Postgraduate Profiles: John Harrison – How ‘Godly’ was Gloucester?


This post comes from MA by Research student John Harrison, who is being supervised by Dr Erin Peters. 

Most major studies on the English Revolution and English Civil War mention Gloucester in some capacity. Some, such as John Morrill’s Essays on the Nature of the English Revolution even make reference to “Godly Gloucester”. Despite this, no study has yet been undertaken to assess whether or not the City of Gloucester was indeed ‘godly’. This study, “How ‘godly’ was Gloucester? Delineating religious belief in print and local government in Seventeenth Century Gloucester”, is intended to investigate the basis of Gloucester’s reputation among historians as ‘godly’.

A definition of ‘Godly’ will be formed through a reading of Seventeenth century Puritan theology, such as the Rev Thomas Watson’s A Godly Mans Picture (1666) and John Downame’s A Guide to Godlynesse (1629). The basis of the study is formed around over fifteen printed sources authored by socially prominent Gloucester citizens and politicians. This will be supplemented with around ninety pages of public records including minutes from council meetings and the court of aldermen. Due to the nature of the source base, the study will take quite a ‘top down’ approach, attempting to assess the extent to which the theology and ideology of the upper social classes of Gloucester. It is my hope that this study will break new ground, widen the field of Seventeenth Century English Religious History, and perhaps even provide a foundation for further studies around Seventeenth Century Gloucester.

Featured image: Plan of Gloucester 1610, taken from J. Speed’s map of Gloucestershire, ©JRS Whiting, obtained from Gloucester Civic Trust[Accessed 13/7/2018]

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